Every Second Counts – CPR & AED

For National CPR & AED Awareness Month (June), we want to emphasize that every second counts when someone is in cardiac arrest.

Every second counts when someone is in cardiac arrest

Cardiac arrest is when the electrical system malfunctions and the heart unexpectedly stops beating. The lack of pumping in the heart causes the brain and other vital organs to stop receiving blood properly. It can also occur if the pulse is too low or a prolonged pause between heartbeats is present.

A heart attack, while used intertwined, is when there is a blockage in a vein that is not allowing blood to flow. The lack of blood can result in a cardiac attack, but a cardiac arrest is not a heart attack. However, both are fatal and require immediate medical attention.

The American Red Cross acknowledges that over 1,600 people suffer from cardiac arrest every day nationwide. 70% of cardiac arrests happen at home. When an individual suffers a cardiac arrest every minute without performing CPR or using an AED, the survival odds drop. That’s why skilled nurses are fully trained in performing CPR and using AED.

You can save lives by knowing how to perform CPR correctly. Also, properly using an AED (automated external defibrillator) is valuable knowledge when the situation is needed. Knowing both can increase the survival rate dramatically.

The Red Cross recommends that every adult should be trained both in CPR & AED. Many overlook the importance of CPR and AED, but these techniques could be the difference between life and death.

These facts are why we will teach you the basics of how to perform both properly. However, we recommend taking a local course in CPR with an instructor to ensure you are equipped with all the information needed.

instructure teaching cpr to a group

How to perform CPR

First, if someone collapses and you don’t have CPR knowledge or just forgot how to perform it correctly, call 911 immediately and call for help. Someone nearby could have this knowledge.

Remember that you should only perform CPR if the person is unconscious, not responding, or not breathing.

Here are the steps on how to perform CPR (adult):

  • 1. Check for responsiveness signals like breathing. Check if there are any other signs like bleeding or other symptoms that may call your attention.

  • 2. Call 911 and tell them all the details you noticed. (This is an important step)

  • 3. Place the person under a flat surface on their back.

  • 4. Give 30 chest compressions

    1. Place your hands extended in the center of their chest.
    2. Your shoulders have to be directly over your hands, elbows locked.
    3. Push with enough strength to surpass 2 inches of the surface. (Depending on the person, this may result in broken ribs)
    4. Rate: 100 to 120 per minute without pause.
    5. Return chest to its normal position after each compression.
  • 5. Use the head-tilt/chin-lift technique to allow the airways to open.

  • 6. Make sure each breath lasts one second. The chest should rise; allow air to exit before giving the next breath.

  • 7. Continue giving sets of 30 chest compressions and two breaths until help arrives. Use an AED as soon as one is available!

Due to their size, performing CPR on babies and children (years 1-8) requires adjustments.

  • Push down only 1/3 the thickness of the chest.

  • Requires a ratio of 15 compressions to two breaths for infants and 30 compressions to two breaths for children 1-8 years.

How to use an AED

First, perform CPR before trying AED. It is better to let the paramedics do this, but if the situation forces you to use one and there are AEDs available, then do the following:

  • 1. POWER ON the AED. Due to the high-stress environment, it may get forgotten.

  • 2. Attach electrode pads to the chest victim. The pads should contact the skin, so unbutton the shirt or cut it if necessary.

  • 3. Analyze the rhythm – Rhythm analysis requires from 5 to 15 seconds. A voice message or light will indicate that charging has started.

  • 4. Clear the victim and press the SHOCK button.

  • 5. Check the pulse by pressing your fingers against the carotid (located at the side of the neck). If the AED worked, you should feel the beating in the neck.
  • 6. If no signs of circulation are noticed, resume CPR again. Three “no shock indicated” messages suggest a low probability that the rhythm can be successfully defibrillated.

  • 7. Make intervals of 1-2 minutes between CPR and AED.

  • 8. During the analysis, no one should touch the victim since it will interrupt the signs.

The importance of CPR & AED training

Every skilled nurse passes through complete training to perform basic emergency procedures. However, everyone can become a heart saver if they receive a proper education.

The American Heart Association recognizes that:

  • Almost 380,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur yearly outside of hospitals
  • 9 of every 10 cardiac arrests occur at home
  • A heart attack is caused by a blocked supply of blood to the heart; it is not the same that a cardiac arrest
  • A cardiac arrest can be so sudden that it hardly presents any symptoms

This information is helpful for everyone. Although it is better to wait for paramedics to perform AED, you might need to do it yourself. You’ll find additional information and local training courses available in your area by going to the CPR and AED training. We also recommend watching the Red Cross links for further info.

The Red Cross First Aid provides instant access to information for cardiac arrest, performing CPR, and other emergencies.

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